So as I have already pointed out (here) I recently wrote What is a Park – Landscape or Infrastructure, for Archinect. One of Gerdo Aquino’s points was regarding the importance of-the use of-right of way. Specifically, his examples and most examples of rails-to-trails, green ways, the High Line have typically involved the re-appropriation/re-invention of post-industrial landscapes.
Reading Arteries of Power: How Solar Energy Could Reshape the West, by Jon Christensen, made me think about another model. Essentially Christensen argues that just as with trains before them, new landscapes of energy extraction within the American West could have large spatial implications. Of course one could question the entire premise of centralized versus distributed energy generation, particularly from a resiliency perspective. However, if the Southwest is going to be developed as a “Mecca for alternative energy” than mitigation will be a necessity. If as Christensen writes, “Trade-offs will have to be made. Some landscapes will be sacrificed. ..Deals will be struck to mitigate immediate impacts — as they must…In that sense, the process is working. Sufficient attention is being paid to the immediate trade-offs. The lasting, wider effects of these trade-offs are another matter“, it is interesting to think who might be best equipped to deal with such long-term challenges.
Or at least to see a proposal tackling such long-term and large-scale, regional, infrastructural and ecological concerns. Landscape architecture, with it’s focus on ecologies, process and time could offer some interesting possibilities. The idea of a stacking or layering of infrastructural program isn’t new. Yet, what if instead of a simply post-industrial maximization of the right of way, this idea was injected into the initial design phase? Seems like it could generate some jobs and more importantly result in a more effective and desirable spatial condition.
Finally, when considering the stacking, or Coupling of infrastructural projects(s) one is naturally lead to the idea of soft systems. I would argue this is because there are only so many physical layers possible. A park, under a power line, a park over a freeway, a park as storm-water infrastructure. You can only design so many objects or scapes. However, once you start talking about systems, processes and responsive, flexibility your designable sq footage, as it were expands.